tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC September 7, 2011 2:00am-3:00am EDT
good evening. i'm chris matthews at the ronald reagan presidential library in simi valley, california. leading off tonight, well, this is the week. today's tuesday. by friday a.m. we'll know two things we don't know now. does president obama have a convincing jobs plan? and the hard commitment to sell it to the american people, and to fight the republicans tooth and nail to get it passed. or make them pay if they try and stop him. great question. question two -- can governor rick perry prove himself the obvious conservative challenger to president obama next year? comes down to two events. the big obama speech thursday. the big republican debate here tomorrow night. by friday a.m., the reviews will be in and we'll know where things stand. what a week. we start coverage now with a new nbc news/"wall street journal" poll, with lows for both president obama and the u.s. congress. politico's editor-in-chief co-moderates the debate with brian williams.
also with us is "new york" mass sine's john heilemann. look at the first big set of number, gentlemen. these are amazing. start with the bleak numbers for president obama from our nbc/"wall street journal" poll. here's a new low. when it comes to job approval, the best number you can have, just 44% approve of how he's handling his job as president. 51%, now a majority, disapprove. also a personal low when it comes to his handling of the economy. no surprise. 37% approve. i don't know who they are. 59% disapprove. 54% think he's facing a long-term setback unlikely to get better. a number of pollsters say it's dangerous for him. like the number for president george w. bush after katrina. one positive note for the president, and i'm not sure i believe this one. 70% of the american people, seven in ten of us, say they still like him personally. i want to go to john heilemann who wrote "game change" starting with the obama situation. looks to me like president obama is in serious trouble of the american people beginning, if
they haven't already to change their minds about him. >> well, yeah, chris, i think that's right and i think the fact is that president obama has been personally popular throughout the time that he's been in office, and as the economy has stayed bad and in some respects got a little better but now it seems to have gotten worse with zero job growth whatsoever in august, always a question had those economic numbers would start to weigh him down. start to weigh down his approval rating more broadly. that's what we're starting to see happen now. people are beginning to think that the president is a good man who tried his best over the course of the first 2 1/2 years of his presidency, but what he has tried has not worked and are at least, at a minimum, open to looking for other alternatives and other solutions. >> john harris, good luck tomorrow night. break a leg, as they say in show business.
>> appreciate it. >> let me ask you this. have the american people made reassessments of is the president's political skills? >> i don't know about the american people. in terms of political skills, in view of a president's substantive skills. >> okay. ability to lead. >> is he able to run the country? and specifically in this -- is he able to do something about a structurally unhealthy economy? and all they can look at so far is evidence, and there's no way to say yes to that. the best case you can make is he needs more time in order to prove his case. the other case is, no. he's had his chance, had his time. now let's try something different. >> quickly, maybe can you make a -- tell me if you can, a friend and as well as colleague. can the president make a decision this week in that speech he gives thursday night with everyone in the country watching, a big nfl night besides everything else, can he decide, go left, do something populist that ed schultz and a lot of my other friends would love, even if it wouldn't sell
for republicans but a hell of a sales pitch, something republicans would choke on but have to buy or give them something soft and tasty that would seem republican? which way would you go? >> i don't know, chris. here's the fundamental -- >> that is the question. you don't want to answer it, fine. john, where would you go? down the middle, off to the right or somewhere in the middle? >> i believe trying to do something down the middle. >> down the middle? >> some measures that republicans would have no excuse not to support. republican ideas. but if you ask for a national audience, if you say, i want to speak to the congress and the whole country, you've got to -- that's a big moment. you've got to fill that moment. i don't believe it's all going to be kind of incremental -- >> okay. back to john. more time with that one. i'm trying to find out whether he wants to get something across the plate the batter can swing at, republicans. or a bad pitch. we know you won't give me help. let's not kid ourselves. i'll give you something ed
shultz will love? >> this is the contradiction, though, chris. i think the president and people recognize the likelihood of republicans approving anything that would substantial alter economic conditions in the united states and election day is zero, and that would require a big figure to get passed and republicans are not going to pass something like that. the problem, if he proposes something really big and that shows the kind of fight that a lot of populists and people on left would really love, it's not going to be that popular in the country. the truth is most people in the country, we can say they may be wrong about this, most in the country now are against big spending programs. they don't look at the stimulus and say it was a success. again, put aside the merit of the argument. politically, the things that show him to be a big thinker or a big, bold political leader are things that would not necessarily be popular in the middle of the country, would not necessarily help his political prospects. the white house is looking at this as a political speech it puts him in a difficult box trying to do something big and bold but broadly popular. not many things fall into that basket.
>> let me just try something specifically. we're preparing this here at "hardball." a real graphic display what he could do. see if he does it. suppose takes every bridge, safety code, democratic politics, i'm going to fix every bridge below code, put the engineering to work, semiskilled, every worker in the city and create a million jobs doing it. is that a good thing to do? basic safety. >> what he has to do is try something new. as heileman pointed out, a lot of people didn't like the stimulus. if he says we'll see more stimulus. the reaction will be, you tried that, it didn't work. he has to, to fill the moment, come up with something that feels genuinely new. and worthy of the problem. worthy of the moment. >> right now to the republicans. what a night they'll have here tomorrow night. among republican voters, rick
favoring him right now as the nominee. look at this. mitt romney down to 23% and ron paul in third. michele bachmann dropping to fourth. compare that to just a month ago when rick perry was -- hardly anywhere while michele bachmann lost half her votes in the last month and trails ron paul. rp lapp the commanding lead among the tea party republicans and surprisingly tea party favorite michele bachmann comes in fourth among her own crowd. and perry wins along non-tea party republicans. winning in both groups. they do shed light on how the candidates are faring. let me go with you on that. john, that seems to me, is the field simply so volatile that a guy comes in not from washington, gubernatorial experience, governor of a big state, good jobs number. those tr the tickets? they don't know -- 21% of the people in the new poll gave him a favorable rating. 38% want him to be president. twice as many support him for the nomination who know him. >> clearly there's a republican hunger for a broader field. that's why perry shot to the top
your number in the poll showed,ened another poll showed the same thing. 17% for romney. >> do they know perry? >> of course not. that's why the number might be ephemeral. why the debate tomorrow is so important. >> and two stages. you pick a profile of the candidate you like. whether gary hart, outdoorsy, young, whatever. and then look inside and say, "where's the beef?" in this case, is that the question this week? >> i think that's a huge question and right now a poll came out from gallup. romney and perry are among people who know them both broadly liked. an intensely factor on the perry side. people hoop like perry like him a lot. people who know romney just like him. really good reporting in politico last week saying the book he wrote has a lot of land mines in it.
people will start exposing those landmines, and we'll see if he has any staying power. there was never a question about the fact mitt romney was not going to be able to waltz to this nomination. not the front-runner and get the nomination next year. he was going to face a big challenge. looks like rick perry is the big challenge, but that doesn't mean that mitt romney can't bounce back. especially if people look under the hood, as you put it in terms of what rick perry really is, what he believes, and whether he could actually win a general election. >> two points now. is the concern about rick perry -- not whether conservatives like him or not. conservatives are really conservative, republican party. or the fear he won't pass muster next november? let me ask a shorter question. is it possible, you can't go too far right for the tea partiers? >> i think there's two questions about rick perry, to hit on what you're asking, chris.
one, does he have depth? is he ready to be president? is he going to look plausible next to barack obama in a general election a year from now? two, does he have national appeal? he obviously has intense regional appeal for southerners. he's got intense appeal for hard-core conservatives. that's not enough to win an election. can he broaden it? those two question, depth, national appeal. >> to congress now. we don't tend to spend a lot of time thinking about congress. usually a second question. look at this. 13% of the american people, you have to wonder who they are, approve of congress' job approval this year. 82% disapprove. heileman, to me, one of those great questions. who are these 13% who like the job that eric cantor did this year? that boehner did this year? that pelosi did this year? what did they do you could approve? >> the ones on the far right ideologically, the people behind the movement of the tea party into power. the mid-term elections last year who wanted the outcome of the
debit ceiling debate was a good thing, who said it was a good thing, on the side of the holdouts in the republican caucus. there are people like in in america. but to go back to the top of our conversation, the unpopularity of congress is one opening that barack obama has. there is an opening here for a truman strategy to run against these guy, because they are broadly unpopular. even the republican party, broadly unpopular. obama can get mileage attacking them starting this week and carrying forward to next november. >> proof of that pudding, john harris, is a new poll number, never seen one like it. if given the option to vote on every member of congress -- if you could go with a voter, walk in to a booth and say no to the members of congress, throw them out, men, women, left, right, center, black, white, hispanic, asian, throw them all out, would you do it? the majority said they'd love to have the chance to throw them out. we know when they go in that voting booth, they'rgoing to vote for the same old people they voted for. >> revealing number.
congress has never -- never been so low, but never popular. people usually say, but i like my guy. he's doing a good job. throw them out. all of them. >> it reminds me of 1980. john, you first. people went into the voting booth. they were so sangry at carter. i was on an airplane as a speechwriter. voted straight republican, almost gave the house away. gave the senate away to republicans. swept 33 seats for reagan. in other words, when you get really, really angry, you vote for a shift from right to left our left to right. will there be a shift? or is there a pox on their house? >> this is different than 1980. a genuine ideological shift to the right. right now we're on track for our fourth straight change election. 2006, kick him out. 2008 change. 2010 change. >> the scary part of that is -- >> not an ideological direction, a radical fluidity. people aren't happy with the way washington and government works.
>> and we get stuck another with another divided government where nothing gets done. gets done. thank you. great segment. good luck with the press. and break a leg co-moderating with brian williams. remember, brian williams, and john harris, the man to my immediate left, will moderate the american presidential debate right here reagan presidential library and join us thursday for the president's big jobs speech at 7:00 p.m. eastern. speaking early before the nfl game. when we return, the stakes for the president and his big jobs speech. he can't just give -- remember the drug stores signs? sundries and notions? just the little things, usual suspects. it's time for him to go big. we all think. you are watching "hardball" only on msnbc. hey, check it out. she's using the mr. clean magic eraser bath scrubber. i've heard of it, but i haven't seen one up close. what's the word around the sink? that it removes 3 times more soap scum per swipe, and it came from outer space. it is not from outer space!
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welcome back to "hardball." the stakes couldn't be higher for president obama this thursday when he gives his big jobs speech before a joint session of congress. this is his chance to lay out a strong vision from obama for the economy and how he proposes creating jobs. in contrast to the republicans, who will likely reject whatever he says. that's the assumption we're making here. this is also an opportunity for the president, one of his last before the next election that shows he's a leader, but will he take it? an assumption we're making here.
also an opportunity for the president, perhaps one of his last before the next election, that shows he's a leader. will he take it and will his speech live up to what's been a dramatic buildup in the last week because of him or fall flat by failing to present a flan can be embraced by the average person watching from home, and will it contain a lot of little things but nothing big and memorable? tough questions. to discuss what we can, we're joined by msnbc senior political analyst at "time" magazine ed, and mark halperin, and msnbc political analyst. mark first. i guess the simple question is, should the president go down the middle and offer up something that the republicans will at least nibble at, or should he offer something so broad and new deal that they're obviously reject it, but the american people on the democrats' side will love it? what should he do? >> he should do whatever he thinks is most likely to create jobs. and my sense is, through all year, the thing most likely to create jobs is finding common ground between john boehner and barack obama.
the way the speech has been led up to, the things likely to be in the speech, the republicans pre-reaction to what's going to be in the speech all suggest that this speech even if it's brilliantly delivered is not going to produce the kind of bipartisan that is required to get something approved by john boehner, harry reid and barack obama. >> but there's a conflict. i know you know this. offer up a bipartisan offering knowing it will be rejected? >> no. they should have been consulting with republicans all along. i don't think it's too late. to go in, give a speech he seems he's going to give, offering up new massive spending proposals with nothing on the other side would be a trade-off worth taking for them. it's going to lead again to the gridlock and partisanship and bickering that isn't going to solve the problem. the president is more worried about creating jobs and reelection, and he should be, but the way he's headed is not going to produce anything that can be approved by john boehner, harry reid and barack obama.
if the federal government is going to help create jobs, those guys all have to be on board. >> a great question i never haven't thought about getting to, but how about you, john? should the president engage in, a courtship, where he goes up to the hills through his emissaries, and trying to figure out where the common ground or will that give away the game? >> been there, done that. fool's erand. you know the expression. burn me once -- >> yes. >> at this point they're not going to cooperate. the republicans, like the democrats, are planning for the 2012 election. what this speech should do is tee up the choice for the american people, and it is an extraordinarily important one. it's about what they think the government's role should be in creating jobs. and we know, we've seen a lot of these proposals. there are some good ones in there. there are some good ideas that he has, and some of what the president will talk about, some of these tax cuts, will parallel what the republicans want to do.
so it may be that they can find common ground, but he has to lay out a democratic vision of what government's responsibility is, and that includes putting people to work immediately. you know, chris, in 1933 when roosevelt became president, he said, i want 250,000 young people working in the national parks by summer. three months later. and he did it. he got it done. >> okay. >> in other words, the president can at least lay that out in terms of what he thinks the government's responsibility to help people who are jobless. it's a philosophical difference to have to be heightened and illuminated in his speech. >> you did a -- >> it's september 2011 -- the
election's in -- he could do this a year from now. i agree it could's a fool's errand, and i agree the smartest thing economically a massive new spending program. it's possible but not going to happen. to say everybody should make their best argument for the election in 2012 and it's the first time the government will come together and act in crisis for so many americans is january of 2013, i just don't think that's the right thing to do for the country. >> they can act on things like extending payroll tax cuts, tax credits to businesses for hiring new employees. there is common ground. room for bipartisanship, but he also needs to say some bold things about what a democratic president believes should be done to create jobs so the voters can make an intelligent choice next fall. it's not too early to do that.
>> okay. yeah. one thing i like about john, historic sense. roosevelt had three stages. i think the american people would understand that. first of all, relief. people desperately looking for work besides more unemployment. and, two, recovery and then reconstruction. don't get the three layers confused. he's got to do something about the jobs right now. what president obama said this weekend in a speech of what it could include in terms of both republicans and democrats can get behind. he said, the president speak at a labor day rally in detroit teasing about what his strategy will be coming off this speech. let's listen. >> we're going to see if we've got some straight shooters in congress. we're going to see if congressional republicans will put country before party. we'll give them a plan and then we'll say, do you want to create jobs? then put our construction workers back to work rebuilding america. do you want to help our companies succeed?
open up new markets for them to sell their products. you said -- you say you're the party of tax cuts? well, then, prove you'll fight just as hard for tax cuts for middle class families as you do for oil companies and the most affluent americans. show us what you've got. >> before you can get a run, you've got to get a hit. let me say something that reconciling both points. both of you are skeptical republicans that go along with anything, but you argue against the populist approach and say go with the practical. shouldn't the president say, look, a bunch of things we can agree to get done in the next couple of weeks. how about we get it done by, say, halloween, november 1st say. and here's what i like, something on payroll taxes, something on extension of unemployment benefits or a business break or something and try to get that package done by a date, would you glif me a vote, mr. boehner, mr. speaker? would you do that, mark? in other words, keep the aggressive posture, even if it's small potatoes?
>> i think the culture of washington, the current relationship between the white house and capitol hill, republicans just don't lend themselves to that producing a result. i don't know exactly what would. i don't think that would. i think -- look, the president needs to say what he believes. the problem is, it's increasingly clear that republicans -- at some level they want the economy to get better. as a political matter, it's not in their interest to make the economy better. putting together a bipar san package is not in their interests. >> you guys are both arguing, but you agree. both you guys think the republicans will screw any plan he sends up there. moderate, middle, right wing, left wing, down the middle. no matter what he puts up before they read it they'll say "this sucks" and do it, why not act accordingly. john? >> a big package, yes. i like your idea that you expressed, which is to right there in the hall on thursday night challenge boehner. give me up or down votes on these proposals. now, they can be split up. it doesn't have to be one big
omnibus package and he can say, all right, maybe they'll agree on the tax cut holiday package, or not on jobs. some will pass. most will fail. but the president will have laid out what he wants to do for the country. >> name an instance in which a president challenged congress with a deadline and they got it? >> look, let's try it. >> you've got to -- if you say to the public, do you want a jobs first agenda or not? tell us in washington -- do you want jobs first or not? tell us in washington -- do you want jobs first or not? >> the public's with him. that's the problem. the public's with him on almost everything. >> weigh in on -- >> you know what? it beats sitting around for the next three months watching the super committee decide how much to cut of debt. there's a loser. anyway, thank you mark halperin and jonathan alter.
the president will give his spice on thursday night at 7:00 eastern. right here we'll have live coverage. up next what's sarah palin doing about talking about pole dancing? you're watching "hardball" from the reagan presidential library, the site of tomorrow night's big republican debate, first offal fall. [ dog ] i am a rockstar. my coat? solid gold. my insides? pure platinum. [ female announcer ] a healthy outside starts inside. new iams simple & natural has chicken as its number one ingredient and zero fillers. it works inside for health you can see on the outside. [ dog ] i can't be a rockstar on the outside if i'm not one on the inside. [ female announcer ] new iams naturals. you'll like what's in them and love what's not. [ dog ] i am an iams dog. [ girls ] he's so cute! [ dog ] groupies!
back to "hardball." now for the firstsideshow" from the reagan library. first up, how's this for a plan. still feeding the rumor mill she's not ruled out entering the 2012 race, sarah palin spoke at a tea party event in iowa. the former governor of alaska launched an attack on the "permanent politicians in washington" and used public opinion polling as an example how disconnected those in washington are from the rest of the country. let's listen. >> -- actually usually on the poles with strippers and cross-country skiers actually -- [ inaudible ] the economy would actually improve. see, there may not be a recession in your town, but there is in the rest of america. >> i don't know. anyway, i love governor palin to just tell us what pole she's taking about from georgetown and why she's talking about strippers? and next up, the first anti-rick perry, coming from another member of the 2012 gop field.
which of the candidates beat the rest of the pack in this one? it turns out that representative ron paul, let's hear what he has to say on the texas governor. >> after reagan, senator al gore ran for president pledging to raise taxes and increase spending. pushing his liberal values, and al gore found a cheerleader in texas named rick perry. rick perry helped lead al gore's campaign to undo the reagan revolution, fighting to elect al gore president of the united states. now america must decide who to trust. al gore's texas cheerleader? or the one who stood with reagan. >> what about this guy? a totally unfair advertisement. back in 1980, if anybody has a
memory, perry was a conservative democrat back then and al gore is running to the right of all the other democrats that year. if were you a democrat you had to be with gore. gore was a hawk in that race. does anybody remember this stuff? this ad is aimed at people with no political memory. used to think better of you. anyway, the takeover of the republican party voted rick perry to the front of the presidential pack. and can big labor turn out like just as enthusiastic on the other side as the tea party is on the other? can labor balance the tea party? in fact, knock them off? you're watching "hardball" at the site of tomorrow night's big republican debate.
welcome back to "hardball." at the nbc/"wall street journal" poll numbers have show earlier confirmation that the tea party is taking over the republican party fueling rick perry's rise to the top. is this is road map while losing the general election? big question. michael steele, msnbc political analyst and david corn, national washington bureau chief for mother jones magazine, also an msnbc political analyst. this is an away game for you, david, my friend. a home game for michael. at least it was for years a home game. let's go this question. perry's rise to greatness. 38% overnight. as i keep pointing out, he has a higher level of support in this new nbc poll today than people
that have a favorable attitude. only 21% say they like him, but 38% say they are for him. this is an amazing leap to the top. is it the whole republican party or -- >> it's not a leap in that sense. i think what you're seeing there is a name identification. when you peel back and say now that you know the guy, do you support or not support him? that's how you get a disparate in the number. 38% shows more and more people are getting to know who he is around the country both inside and outside of the party. >> they all know he's a tea party guy? >> they may know that, but i'm saying, then you ask the next question, which gets you your 21%, 23%, 24%. >> i wonder whether they -- i think they like his position. they don't know him personally or anything. they don't care, as long as he questions the federal government. as long as he's against taxes. as long as he has a jobs record, david. seems that's good enough. i'm talking about the moderate republicans i'm not sure have decided that yet.
i think right now the idea of rick perry is polling very well. better than perhaps rick perry himself will do as michael just referred to. once people get to know him they may not like him as much. but it's certainly clear that the candidate who's in the lead of the republican primaries until voting day will be whoever wins the "i feel your anger" contest. we're talking empathy. the republicans are mad as hell. they hate barack obama. they hate the federal government, and they want someone to reflect that. that's why michele bachmann looked so attractive not so long ago, but questions about her electability. now, rick perry has come in and lassoed up support without people knowing much about him or even reading his book. >> yeah. the problem with romney is he has a voice that's so st. paul, so prep school. you're laughing already, michael. that's why i like you. reminds me of my friend dr. bob arnott. another extremely well educated, intelligent guy, that wonderful el cougs that doesn't seem to
have the passion of the working stiff. >> you're absolutely right. that's what tomorrow night will be for him. with perry standing on the stage with them he's going to have to come out of the box and show that other side. to show that strife salve -- savvy. >> is he there? >> one of the -- >> wait a minute. >> i know. what other side? i think -- i think the romney people understand -- i think romney himself. listen to his tone and approach over the last two weeks. he's getting there and has to. otherwise perry sucks all the air out of the room. >> i think he's too -- wild guy. jimmy hoffa made it clear. have fun and go to the left. jimmy hoffa made clear who democrats need to -- now it's speakable. boy, has our lingo dropped in class. you're allowed to say this stuff on television. let's listen. >> we got to keep an eye of the battle we face, a war on workers. we see it everywhere as the tea
party. you know there's only one way to be and win that war. the one thing about working people is we like a good fight. everybody here's got a vote. if we go -- keep our eye on the prize, let's take this sons of son of a brismt -- bitches out and give america back to who it belongs. >> who is this guy? patton? s.o.b.? >> on the stump -- >> he's a union guy talking to union crowd. this is what they've been saying for years. michele bachmann as the "post" reported used that same phrase. let's take them out. the context you played, he was talking about political action. use your vote. let's take out these s.o.b.s and the grand course of things, it's not that big a deal. >> okay. i want to keep this tape and so the next time a republican says something that's a little off color like that i want to play it back so that we're all clear -- >> anytime, sure. >> it's fair game. anytime. absolutely.
so the reality of it is you know, republicans have said either you lie or made some other, you know, loud noise about the president. >> that's not the same? >> start screaming, so, you know -- >> is this -- not -- >> an appropriate way to introduce the president of the united states. let's call it what it is. >> not used yet. if somebody says that, in the white house, you will be right. take a look at vice president biden. his language is much better. here he is talking about labor unions to stand up and fight in neater language. here he is. let's listen. >> this is a fight to the heart and soul of the labor union. it's a fight literally for our right to exist. don't misunderstand what this is. don't misunderstand -- you are the only folks keeping the barbarians at the gates. you are the only nongovernmental power. the only nongovernmental power. the other side has declared war on labor's house and it's about time we stand up.
>> well, there he is. joe biden, regular guy. can he do it? david corn, can he take the labor movement along with the people like james hoffa and turn on the passion that we're seeing from the right? >> you know i think it's okay to >> yes or no. you're hemming and ahhing. you're hemming. >> no, no, no. chris, what's important, not a speech that biden gives as a rally, which he can do quite well. what's going to be important is what the president lays out thursday night and whether that in and of itself and the fight plan that comes with it, if there is a fight plan, motivates those people in that crowd to do something other than applaud a speech line. so it's really up to the white house now. biden wants to lead that fight with the president, they've got to get out in front of that is crowd and give them something to fight for. >> if he says that s.o.b. eric kantor, you will be there to say, don't talk like that. anyway, thank you.
>> i'm looking for a rodney king moment here. can't we all get along? >> thank you michael steele. thanks for coming out here. the one thing rick perry needs to do in his first republican presidential debate. what do they needed to do to come out on top. we're going to go through this analytically with pat buchanan. michele bachmann, mitt romney and rick perry. how do they all have to act tomorrow might to get in? to win? we're going into wrestling fight tonight. don't forget, you can only watch the debate here on msnbc. this is a unique monopoly tomorrow night. you've got to watch it here to find out what republicans are up to. what a revolt and development what a revoltin' development that must be. this is "hardball," only on msnbc.
the first time the new gop front-runner in our poll, rick perry, will take part in the debate and not only have something to prove also a target figuratively speaking on his back. what does perry need to defend himself and keep his position and what does mitt romney and michele bachmann need to do to stay in the race? and bring perry down a notch? joining me, michelle bernard and pat buchanan. let me start with pat on the front-runner. i want to get to this perry guy. he has to fill in the blanks. should he invoke the ronald reagan rule of thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow republican as a smart first move to cut them off at the pass? >> no, because he may have to do some real fighting before the night of over, what rick perry should do, chris, when he goes in there is he's sitting there and got them sort of locked up temporarily, he wants to come off as a tough, strong, conservative leader, but as johnny cash said, rick, don't bring your guns to town. don't bring that texas swagger, but stand up there and solve one of the problems you got, which is a lot of people say he's a terrific guy and a terrific
candidate, but is this guy a president. i think he's got to come off as presidential, at the same time, tough. >> can he ever explain why he was carrying a gun when he went jogging? >> well, it's because of that coyote that's no longer with us. >> okay, let me go to michelle. i can't understand -- does he have a shoulder holster? odd question for an odd situation. let me go right now to michele bachmann -- michelle bernard, of course, not bachmann. how do you get back in this race if you're mitt romney, thoughtful guy, how does he catch a guy like rick perry who seems to be a born politician? >> well, you know, for mitt romney right now, the key might really just be is sit back and see what happens. we don't know if this bump rick
perry is seeing right now is just a temporary bump or whether or not it's going to last all the way throughout next year. mitt romney did well in the last republican debate, he seemed presidential, he answered the questions well, he made other people appear as if their candidacies were below them, and maybe the best strategy for him right now is to wait it out and see what happens with rick perry. is rick perry going to accuse somebody else of treason, for example. romney might not have to do that much in terms of defensive or even offensive strategy in dealing with perry. >> chris, let me agree with michelle on this. she's exactly right. mitt romney has won every debate he's been in or come in second. he's doing well, he's running behind perry, but perry is going to be gone after by michele bachmann and ron paul as well, they are going to have a battle. what mitt romney should do is be what he is as a personable, nice guy, strong leader, acceptable candidate, but be ready to throw a punch if perry comes at him:
>> absolutely. >> michele bachmann, i mentioned her a moment ago by accident, michelle bernard, is she out of the race, can she get back in it? >> they have grabbed the lead, it could be temporary. throughout the rest of the year we'll see mitt romney first or second, for bachmann, a lot is going to depend on will sarah palin enter the race or not, because if sarah palin enters, we're going to see rick perry, sarah palin, and michele bachmann all battling it out for the tea party vote, and i think if sarah palin enters the race, michele bachmann is out. she's really got to get her mojo back, but if rick perry makes a huge misstep she might be in the number two spot again. >> chris, i think michelle has got to go after rick perry, because he is sitting on her constituency. romney is not. romney's got his own, she can't reach that.
she can use romney as a foil, but she's got to get back her constituency from perry. >> going to be a great fight. we're hoping bachmann goes after perry. thank you pat buchanan and michelle bernard, so great to have you. don't forget, republican debate tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. eastern. this could be the option against barack obama. when we return, let me finish with big questions that will start to be answered this week. you're watching "hardball" on msnbc. hy smile. that's why i recommend crest pro-health clinical gum protection. it helps eliminate plaque at the gum line, helping prevent gingivitis. it's even clinically proven to help reverse it in just 4 weeks. crest pro-health clinical gum protection.
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let me finish tonight with a politics this week, i've been out there seeing the glory of the country these past couple of weeks with our daughter, caroline, the beauty of the snake river in wyoming, the beauty of the parks and cody, wyoming, and sat for two hours looking at mount rushmore, the proud of uncertain washington, the hopeful tom jefferson. teddy roosevelt who was weary of the wilderness he has protected, and abraham lincoln, clear-eyed and true. i am now here at the ronald reagan library where we're going to know what the president's up to, what he has to bring to this country, to restore the hope that lies waiting for the one that can lead, and we'll learn who can lead the republican party once led by abraham lincoln and the great teddy roosevelt.
the republican party who has been won over by the anti-zealotry of the right. is the president able to win back the faith and hopes of the american majority? can he display a strong hand in rebuilding the american economy brought low by unsafe financial risk taking. can we create jobs, stimulate investment and consumption, the essential ingredient of recovery, or not, and what has become of the republican party of lincoln and teddy roosevelt, is it now the tea party and becoming the wig party prior to the civil war when it was taken over. has the modern republican party been taken over by those who see government as the evil as abolitionists have seen slavery as illegal? when you hear governor rick perry speak for the need for secession, are you listening to republicans or more radical, something a traditional
republican would hear as alien? here's what i'm asking, ask a modern republican to choose between bachmann and obama. bachmann and obama, again, obama. ask her to choose between obama and rick perry, and she'll start to think. that's where we are politically in this country this week, that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us, i'm glad to be back from vacation. "the last word with lawrence o'donnell" starts right now. nbc pollsters have found one thing that republicans and democrats agree on, nobody likes congress.